September 2003

Child sex offender’s address kept secret by court

A 51-year-old child sex offender appeared before Blackburn magistrates for failing to notify police of a change of his address.

And magistrates ruled in favour of a defence application to withhold Martin McCullion’s new address because of fears for his safety and the danger of “vigilante” actions.

Robin Phoenix said his client had been subjected to physical violence and verbal abuse as a result of a conviction at Bolton Crown Court in February 2000 for three indecent assaults on children under the age of 14. He had received 15 months in prison.

But the magistrates who granted the application to withhold the address were not told until later in the proceedings that the defendant had been convicted of a similar offence in 1996.

Lisa Worsley, prosecuting, said McCullion moved from his last registered address in York Street, Blackburn, then to the Audley Range area before moving to his latest address.

He told police he had forgotten about the requirement to notify change of address.

Mr Phoenix said McCullion had not been in trouble since 2000. Things had got bad for his client when he separated from his partner.

Magistrates imposed a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered McCuillion to pay £65 costs.

Magistrates said they were aware of the public interest and that there was a strong presumption that McCuillion’s details should be published.

“However, we believe that if his address was made public, vigilante activity could occur which could lead to criminal activity. He could be subjected to physical and verbal abuse and we accept that publication of his address should be prohibited.”